Conclave,
The TVD First Date

“I first came into contact with records at probably 5 or 6. My dad had his small collection of Merengue records in the closet where we kept our winter wear. My parents never played them because they were very much in the home entertainment era of the ’90s, and in typical Latin household fashion they had a drawer with probably 300 + CD’s with salsa, merengue, all types of Latin music which had a profound effect on me and thus on Conclave.”

“Later when I got to high school I fell in love with jazz. I played in the school jazz band and combo and formed a side jazz combo. All I listened to was jazz, but it was in the format of CDs, which I bought or burned. This continued until I got to Berklee College of Music in Boston. I was finally living in a space that wasn’t my parents house for the first time and wanted to make it my own, so I did what a lot of millennial art students in college did at that time: I bought a shitty record player. That started my love affair with the vinyl medium. I finally could buy all of the jazz records I’d been listening to all these years in their original medium and could discover more.

Around the corner from the school was a super dope record store called Looney Tunes (RIP). They had two locations—one by Harvard campus in Cambridge, and lucky for me, another one right by Berklee. The guys that worked there were a couple of super nice older white Boston dudes. They were more into rock and probably were in punk or rock bands in the ’70s and ’80s. The store had an extensive rock selection but funny enough they had a jazz selection that rivaled it (probably because of the proximity to a jazz school).

I would go every week, multiple times a week, and buy jazz records from artists I recognized and sometimes a jazz artist I had just learned about in class that day. I would go home, smoke a lil sum’, and actively listen with friends or alone. One record during this era that flipped my shit and a lot of my friends shit was Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis and Gil Evans. This was a movie in every sense to us and I remember us laying on the ground with our backs on the floor and facing the ceiling and could imagine the scenes that took place in a continent and culture none of us had ever experienced to yet.

As the semesters progressed so did my taste. I started taking more risks with trying out different records/genres and sometimes it would pay off in dividends. Another record store that I loved going to and would love to revisit soon is Cheap-o Records in Cambridge on Mass Ave. They had a good mix of stuff but also had a good amount of hip-hop and r&b, which I loved.

I saw one of my favorite all time albums on vinyl there, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill! I couldn’t afford it at the time so I didn’t pick it up then and I still think about that from time to time. However, that same day I did find this record, Jayme Marques (self titled). I remember I thought the cover was super attractive to me with a bright orange background and purple font. This record went on to become one of my favorite pieces of music and influenced me so much to this day. It had a nice mix of Latin , funk, jazz, and I’d never heard of this artist before. I would listen to it again and again and show my friends.

To think I would have been completely missing out on this music if it hadn’t been preserved on vinyl and in that store that day. This made me think “what about all the pieces of music that are going to be part of my DNA that I haven’t heard yet or that I would be missing out on if I didn’t collect vinyl!” I doubled down and would visit record stores all around the city multiple times a week.

Records helped remind me that I’ve always loved all types of music, not just jazz. That’s when Scott and I met; in my second year of college in our spoken word/ hip hop ensemble. We were feeling the same way about the exclusion we felt and jazz snobbery that was in the hallways of the school, and wanted to explore and express the things we always had inside. We immediately clicked and were hanging out all the time.

During our time in college together Erykah Badu released New Amerykah Part Two and I can’t remember who bought the CD first, but the day it was released we were in my living room bobbing our heads in unison for 50 minutes straight. This became part of our musical DNA and though we didn’t know it at the time of Conclave DNA. A few weeks later I was making the rounds at Newbury Comics and saw the thing on vinyl there, and so it went in my crate.

This year is the year I learned how to DJ. I took the skills I learned in turntable techniques class at school and started playing some of these records out in college house parties. I had a brief stint in college radio as my then DJ moniker DJ Fresh Produce (pronounced “pruh-doose” like the verb) until I got kicked out of the station for, umm, graffiti we’ll call it. My then professor and now homie Raydar Ellis blessed me with a copy of Camp Lo “This is It” on wax that he got from Underground Hip Hop store (RIP). I also bought Dilla Ruff Draft at Newbury Comics that year and I still play it both of them out.

Towards the end of my time in college Scott and I were one of the first 26 students to be accepted to study abroad in Valencia, Spain. We got our heads cracked open to flamenco and studied with legendary flamenco artists. During our time there I knew I would miss home so I brought about 6-7 records from home with me to listen to, among them were Fogaraté by Juan Luis Guerra (going back to my merengue roots), another was Blowout Comb by Digable Planets, and one important one was For Once in My Life by Stevie Wonder. That last record had a version of one of my favorite songs, “Sunny.” I listened to these records literally everyday.

Fast-forward to moving to NYC after college, I started to get involved with the DJ and club scene here. I started doing parties in the punk loft I lived in with my friend Alex Suarez aka Cienfuegos, and we called the parties the Conclave. I remember one time I did a big spend at A-1 Records in the LES as a birthday present to myself in preparation for one of these parties. In this batch of records I found a beautiful Brazilian samba record by Martinho Davila, Martinho Da Vila Isabel. I showed this to Scott and he fell in love with it just as hard as I did. We literally loved the lush samba rhythms accompanied by lush sweet vocals and had it on repeat.

The party had run its course so Alex and I amicably split ways. I went on to continue DJing venues in the city and now have massed a good amount of records. Throughout this whole time Scott and I had always been making music together. I’d show him new house or techno records I had just bought that flipped my shit and he would be just as enthused about them and show me songwriters he had been digging into also.

After a few years, we decided to put our efforts together to put out the music we made together that was/is a culmination of all the previous mentioned genres and more. We revived the concept of Conclave and saw it as the perfect fusion of everything I mentioned above. In the years of us recording we organically came out with a cover of one of our favorite songs, “Sunny.” This was the first single we put out this year and we were of course super stoked to have the release pressed on vinyl.  Now we look forward to putting our full album on vinyl with the newly formed but already legendary Love Injection Records in 2021 with some treats in between.”
Cesar Toribio

“There’s Enough,” the new single from Conclave in is stores now via the newly inaugurated Love Injection Records label.

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PHOTO: GUARIONEX RODRIGUEZ, JR.

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